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Baker McKenzie Vet’s New Firm to Give Climate Advice, Funding

Nov. 19, 2019, 9:50 AM

The former head of Baker McKenzie’s global climate change and global environmental markets practice Martijn Wilder is starting a new chapter in his career as co-founder of Pollination, a climate change investment and advisory firm that combines expertise on law, policy, and investment.

The newly launched firm will “help governments and companies on the road to transitioning their businesses to net zero emissions,” Wilder told Bloomberg Law.

He said it will also close a gap between policymakers and investors involved in climate change work and aims to raise billions to invest in projects and programs to achieve a climate resilient future.

The firm is already working with Australian mining giant BHP, the World Bank Group and the Fijian Government.

Wilder, who is based in Sydney, Australia, co-founded Baker McKenzie’s global climate change practice and led it for 20 years. The practice focuses on international climate law, international carbon markets, and conservation finance.

Wilder departed several months ago to launch Pollination alongside Tony O’Sullivan, a London-based investment banker and former head of investment banking at Lazard in Sydney.

On Nov. 15, Baker McKenzie announced that Sydney-based partner Ilona Millar would take over as its new head of climate change.

‘New and Novel’

Joining Wilder at Pollination are several other attorneys from Baker McKenzie including the former head of its North America climate change and environmental markets practice Richard Saines, who will be a partner.

In 2016, Saines was awarded France’s national order of merit for his contributions during the Paris Climate Summit and the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Former longtime Baker McKenzie attorney Marisa Martin has also joined Pollination as its executive director. She and Saines are based out of U.S. and will work to develop the team there.

“What we’re doing is pretty new and novel,” Wilder said of Pollination, which will have offices in London, New York, and Sydney.

Wilder has been in the space for decades and has worked extensively with climate change issues and project finance. But as commitment towards combating climate change has increased, funds committed have not necessarily been flowing to the right places, he said.

“What we’re trying to do is bring together people who are world leaders in these areas to focus on delivering these outcomes,” Wilder said.

Pollination has five business arms — a merchant banking unit, a venture capital division, a foundation, an infrastructure investment platform, and an advisory arm. Breakthrough Advisory will provide expert law and policy advice to clients.

Wilder said the firm can help fill “a gap between those who are making policy and those who are investing.”

He said policymakers and those in government don’t always know much about how investments or the markets work and the investor side may not understand the policy aspects of fighting climate change.

Fighting Climate Paralysis

Pollination will work with governments to develop laws and governance systems to combat climate change and comply with related standards. It will also work with capital streams to generate new ideas for new investments.

For example, if a government seeks to cut emissions by 2050, Pollination will advise it on how to do so, including on how to structure its economy and how to make laws and policies that encourage climate-related investment. It will also guide investors eyeing those new areas.

“A lot of people are very concerned about climate change, but are paralyzed on what to do, so we’ll offer services to help them through the transition period,” Wilder said.

The firm also plans to make large-scale investments of its own. It will look to raise $3 billion across its investment platforms and funds as well as an additional $1 billion of co-investments from its global limited partner investor base.

Pollination has said it plans to fund projects and technologies that build climate resilience and help with decarbonization. This includes looking at infrastructure improvements in sectors like energy and telecommunications.

Pollination has also brought on talent from outside Big Law, including Australian Ambassador for the Environment Patrick Suckling. Rob Jesudason, former president of the world’s largest blockchain company, Block One, will serve as chair.

The new firm also has several notable senior advisors including Citi Australia chairman Sam Mostyn, global chairman of AXA Investment Managers Christof Kutscher, and James Cameron, chairman of Climate Change Capital. Cameron co-founded Baker McKenzie’s climate change practice alongside Wilder.

To contact the reporter on this story: Meghan Tribe in New York at mtribe@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com; Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com